Navalny’s Widow Calls Putin A ‘Gangster’ Unworthy To Be Recognized As President

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Yulia Navalnaya

Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, said President Vladimir Putin is a “gangster” and Western governments should not recognize him as the legitimate leader of Russia after his inevitable reelection in the presidential vote that begins on March 15.

In an op-ed published on March 13 in The Washington Post, Navalnaya called Putin a corrupt leader who has falsified elections and killed, imprisoned, or forced out all his critics.

“Putin is not a politician, he’s a gangster,” Navalnaya wrote.

She said Putin hated her husband precisely because he openly described him and his allies as gangsters who seized power “only for their own enrichment and to fulfill their personal ambitions.”

Navalnaya, whose husband died last month from unexplained circumstances at the age of 47 in an Arctic prison where he was serving a 19-year sentence, again said that he was murdered on Putin’s direct order. World leaders and Russian opposition activists have also blamed Putin. The Kremlin has denied involvement in his death.

Navalny’s widow said she wrote the op-ed to convey a “few important things that Aleksei had been trying to say all these years” before Russians begin voting.

Navalnaya said governments must fundamentally change their view of Putin, who is facing no serious opponent in the election and is certain to sweep to another six-year term.

Those who look at Putin as a mafia boss “will grasp his brutality, cynicism, penchant for violence, fondness for ostentatious luxury — and his willingness to lie and kill” and therefore should dismiss the idea that he is a legitimate political leader.

She urged countries not to recognize the results of the March 15-17 elections to give a signal to civil society in Russia and the elites that Russia is “ruled not by a president recognized by all, but by someone who is despised and publicly condemned.”

Those who remain loyal to Putin will then start to see that the one way to return to normal economic and political life is to get rid of him, she said.

She also argued for the maximum expansion of sanctions against the most prominent Putin-allied politicians, businessmen, civil servants, and law enforcement officials.

“By depriving thousands of influential figures of their capital and assets, you lay the groundwork for internal divisions — and ultimately the collapse of the regime,” she said.

The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on hundreds of entities and individuals since Russian launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022 in an effort to punish Russia and force an end to the war, but Moscow thus far has managed to overcome the sanctions in part with the support of friendly trading partners such as China.

Navalnaya said political leaders in the West should help all Russians who stand up against Putin by not recognizing the results of the elections and by no longer recognizing Putin as the legitimate president of Russia.

“The world must finally realize that Putin is not who he wants to appear to be,” she said.

With reporting by The Washington Post